For the past few years, Netflix has been on a roll with the original content. Though at first Netflix was only known as a DVD rental site and then a TV streaming site, its forays into original content are now probably what it’s most known for. Shows like Voltron:Legendary Defender, Sense8, and the various Marvel Defendersserieshave all garnered (mostly) high praise, and with them to jump off of, it’s no surprise that Netflix quickly went from original TV shows to original movies as well. At the end of this year, Netflix is releasing Bright, a fantasy cop drama with A-list actors that looks to be Netflix’s bid at its next famous property. The trailer looks good, but I’m afraid it may raise more questions than it answers.
I’m not usually into horror, but while I was on my webcomics binge this break, I stumbled upon a little comic called Brainchild. I didn’t know anything about it and I had the vague idea that it was about mutants, so I went in pretty much completely unprepared. Quick update: it’s not really about mutants. However, it is about an enormous, unsettling conspiracy that looks to have a great effect on the personal and professional life of its protagonist, Allison Beaufort. I was thoroughly creeped out and thoroughly entertained, and that’s all I can ask for from a webcomic.
Over our summer break, I was reading a book whose protagonists traveled to alternate universes which, frankly, I didn’t like very much. But it did get me thinking about the idea of alternate universes in fiction. Not the scientific concept of alternate (parallel) universes—though that’s often the subject of many sci-fi stories—I’m talking about the alternate universes that result from one thing changing in a fictional story. What if Charles Xavier died before he could found the X-Men? What if Captain America was a Nazi? Undoubtedly, a lot of things would be bad. And unfortunately, this is the kind of alternate universe that we often see in today’s fictional media. However, the idea that one different thing could change everything is so broad that I don’t understand why this kind of grimdark change is the most common. Fanfiction also often deals in alternate universes which diverge from canon, but the changes of fanfiction, on the whole, all tend to be more positive and more emotionally satisfying. Though many mainstream movies and TV shows disdain this sort of happy story, an alternate universe which changes originally negative canon material into positive new story fodder can bring with it a wide range of different emotions than the usual grimdark reboot is capable of.
A lot of popular fictional stories have, as their primary premise, their protagonists traveling from one world (typically our world) into another, far different, world. Whether this is something like The Forbidden Kingdom (a movie about a white savior transported to ancient China which I nevertheless loved as a child) or the much better Spirited Away (a movie about a young girl who falls into the spirit world and grows up along the way), traveling to new and fantastical worlds is such a part of our fictional tradition that it’s seen dozens of times in new stories every year. But very few of these stories really explore the emotional cost of traveling to these new worlds. That’s where today’s fic comes in. Through the use of an unusually real medium, This American Life, today’s story This American Life episode 141: A Whole New World. (Transcript) discusses the pros and cons of traveling to new worlds.
It’s been a summer of endings for my favorite series. Always Human wrapped up its wlw slice-of-life cuteness in early June, Orphan Black finished in early August, and finally The Adventure Zone, whose humor got me through much of last year and this one, came to a close this past week. Though The Adventure Zone will continue, this particular adventure about Merle, Magnus, Taako, and a world of delightful NPCs is now over. Fittingly enough for this comedic fantasy-ish podcast, it ended with a finale which would, in other series, be considered extremely cliché. As other people on this blog know very well, I balk at the slightest hint of anything cheesy, but when I finished listening to this finale, I wasn’t rolling my eyes — I was happy. Somehow, through its 69 episodes (yes, 69, the sex number), The Adventure Zone boys had managed to construct a story in which a loving ending wasn’t only enjoyable, it was also practically required by the preceding narrative.
Massive spoilers for the entirety of The Adventure Zone below.
Welcome back to the blog, all! I hope you had a fun two weeks while we were on our summer vacation; I spent the days doing Pokémon raids and surfing random webcomics online, trying to find a replacement for my dearly departed Always Human. There’s a lot of stuff out there, much of it diverse and much of it superbly creative. The one I found myself most interested in is called The Substitutes, a reality-bending fantasy by games artist Myisha Haynes.
Comic-Con isn’t really my scene, but this year a trailer dropped and with it, so too did my pre-emptive ten bucks for a theater ticket. Amidst the other announcements, none more enchanted me than beloved director Guillermo del Toro’s fusion between fairy tale and horror story, The Shape of Water. Just…. just look at it.
Like fish in an enthusiastic aquarium, fans are gobbling up the small flakes of information on Dragon Age 4 showing up on the surface of the internet. While most things remain, understandably, under metaphorical lock and key, one of these claims disrupted the community more than others. According to Daily Sun Knoxville, one of the most integral playable characters in DA4 would be none other than the templar Cullen. It’s important to note that Daily Sun Knoxville may not be an entirely reputable source—I mean, if this was a typical leak, it’s weird that no other news outlets appear to have the same information, especially big gaming outlets like Polygon or Kotaku. The legitimacy of the rumor aside, it did spark a discussion worth having within the community. From where I stand, it only makes sense that Cullen found his way from minor NPC to party member over the course of the four games. However, like many other fans, I find the emphasis on Cullen to be worrisome, especially given the narrative’s unsympathetic treatment of the fantastical minorities in Inquisition.
A Wrinkle in Time was one of my absolute favorite books as a child. It was one of the earliest books I can remember reading, and I devoured all the books in the series before I ever knew that such a thing as “fanfiction” existed. (Nine-year-old me wrote some stories about protagonist Meg Murry’s brothers, the twins Sandy and Dennys Murry—good thing I’ve since lost them!) After I got busy with college and post-college life, though, I mostly forgot about these books, which is why it was such a delight when the trailer for the new adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time burst onto the scene this weekend.
As with many families during the 90s, my family was a Disney family. In my eyes, though, there were fairy tales far more enrapturing than The Lion King or Pocahontas. My mom had this stash of fairy tale stories that I’d never heard of before—it was from this stash that I’d first learned about The Snow Queen and got a head start on my Frozen disappointment. Fairy tales don’t tend to age well under a critical eye, but I remember there being one story in particular that seemed outwardly feminist, even to my tiny baby mind, which had no idea what feminism even was. Jane Yolen’s 1989 Dove Isabeau doesn’t manage to escape all of the not great fairy tale tropes, but the agency given to its heroine and the rejection of typical masculinity saving the day is enough to make me forgive the tropes the story does hold onto.